'Nobler Imaginings and Mightier Struggles':
Octavia Hill and the Remaking of British Society
Sutton House, London - 27-28 September 2012
A centenary conference organised by the National Trust and the University of Oxford, with the support of Octavia Housing
In September 2012 an interdisciplinary conference at Sutton House in London will mark the centenary of the death of Octavia Hill. Best known for her housing reform, Hill was also instrumental in founding such diverse present-day institutions as the National Trust, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Army Cadet force, and Family Action (originally the Charity Organisation Society). In a political climate which once again emphasizes the kind of privately-financed social action that Hill applauded, and where the preservation of open space and the provision of homes are again contentious, a re-evaluation of her life and legacy seems particularly timely.
The two-day conference will incorporate talks from invited speakers Gillian Darley, Jane Garnett, Lawrence Goldman, Astrid Swenson, Robert Whelan, and William Whyte. William Whyte will also lead participants round some of the Southwark housing projects established by Hill. To complement these events, submissions are invited for academic papers to make up a day of interdisciplinary panel sessions exploring Hill’s life, work, writings, and legacy; as well as her contemporaries, and the contexts in which she worked.
Topics might include (but are not limited to):
- Housing reform: slum clearance and the model dwelling movement
- Mapping the slums
- ‘Professional beggars’ and the Charity Organisation Society
- ‘Lady visitors’: women in the slums and women’s voluntary work more widely
- Social work and the professionalization of relationships with the poor
- Conservative feminisms: anti-suffrage and maternal philanthropy
- Working-class leisure and the right to open spaces
- The Kyrle Society and culture for the poor
- The National Trust and the preservation/conservation movement
- Hill’s intellectual and social circle (including John Ruskin, Samuel and Henrietta Barnett, and F.D. Maurice)
- ‘Teaching en-masse’: Octavia Hill and Victorian women writers
- The Army Cadet force: its history and influence
Submissions are encouraged from graduate students, early-career academics, and senior academics, from any academic discipline, and from independent scholars. Hill’s influence and interests were extremely wide-ranging and our conference will reflect this diversity. 300-word proposals (for 20-minute papers) carrying a name and institutional affiliation, should be submitted to email@example.com by 1 June 2012.